The U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement was approved this week by senators in Washington as part of a budget bill that President Barack Obama will sign in the coming days, the White House said.
The accord, signed in 2012 by the then-heads of U.S. and Mexican diplomacy, Hillary Clinton and Patricia Espinosa, will allow the two countries to explore for and develop crude reserves beyond each of their exclusive economic zones in the Gulf of Mexico, which were demarcated in a 1978 maritime-boundary treaty.
"This agreement will establish an environmentally safe and responsible framework to explore, develop, and share revenue from hydrocarbon resources that lie in waters beyond each country's exclusive, economic zones," White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement Friday.
The White House said the agreement was included as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.
The green light from the U.S. Congress comes during the same week in which Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed an energy-overhaul bill that will pave the way for multinational energy companies to develop Mexican crude reserves for the first time since 1938.
The American Petroleum Institute issued a statement Thursday hailing the possibility of U.S-Mexican joint projects in the Gulf of Mexico, where several deposits overlap the maritime boundary.
"The energy production made possible by this agreement will put Americans to work and raise more revenue for the government. American companies will now have the certainty they need to invest confidently along our maritime border with Mexico," API Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito was quoted as saying.
The maritime-border region in the Gulf holds reserves totaling roughly 172 million barrels of oil and 15 million metric tons of natural gas, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. EFE